Forum theatre was devised by Augusto Boal in the 1970s. He took a group of actors into the community; they interviewed people and wrote a play to reflect the situation they were in. This was typically used to bring about cultural and political change. This technique has been developed as a training tool to demonstrate poor and best practise in a work situation.
The way we use it –
We meet with a client and discuss their aims and objectives for the training event. Our aim is to understand the culture, ambitions and challenges within the clients business. We ask for examples of challenging situations and conversations that their staff may have, whether that be communication skills training or performance management training etc.
We write a scene based on a client’s real life scenario. The scene will reflect a situation which the participants may find challenging. There will be errors made and the scene typically ends badly.
The participants are then encouraged to discuss what they saw and feedback to the actors. The actors will play out the scene again demonstrating how the suggestions they have been given would play out. The participants have the opportunity to stop the action, make suggestions and redirect the actors towards a positive solution.
The actors will come out of character from time to time to introduce techniques and models (in a more typical training style) they will then demonstrate how these techniques can be applied to improve the outcome of the scene.
By the end of the event participants will have techniques and strategies for handling challenging situations and a greater self-awareness.
The event is often for half a day for up to 20 people. Although we have worked with much larger audiences. The smaller the group the more opportunity to get involved, and therefore, learning for each individual. We do however run full-day events and practice sessions where participants have an opportunity to practice a real conversation with one of the actors playing the member of staff. They then receive individual feedback and coaching. This can be a great way to gain an insight into the impact that they have. How what they say and how they say it affects someone else.